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tv   2020  ABC  March 21, 2014 10:01pm-11:01pm PDT

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please get away as fast as you can. don't walk, run before you're caught in trap. tonight on "20/20" -- sleeping with the enemy. a bombshell decision in court this week. >> just want it to be done. >> raven abaroa, his first wife murdered. his second wife growing scare and playing detective on the internet. >> and it thought there's no way. there's no way. >> bottom line, i wasn't involved in the death of my wife. >> tonight, we take you back to the crime scene a stranger's going print and stray dna. was there a intrurder in the
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house? was the killer closer to home? a lot closer? >> never forgets about raven. >> a cold case of murder that "20/20" helped put back on the radar. the suspicions about raven. video taping himself. his obsession with knives. >> that's my new knife that i got for christmas. >> and a didn't's hunch that to solve a crime, you have to look in the victim's eyes, literally. >> exhume the body of janet abaroa. >> what secrets will the grave give up about a marriage gone sou south. >> sleeping with the enemy. here now, elizabeth vargas and david muir. tonight, the stunning case thrust into the national spotlight, two wives, one dead and one alive. murder investigation that had reached a dead end until "20/20"
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got on the case. tonight, the bombshell tonight. >> tonight, we take you from the courtroom to the crime scene to the bedroom and to something sitting on the bedside table and a clue buried with the wife -- until now. you'll see the video recorded by the murder suspect himself, would his own words haunt him? john quinones back on the case that he broke wide open. >> reporter: in the heart of utah's salt lake valley single mom vanessa pond raises her 11-year-old daughter. the only man she can depend on is her father, and he says, she's fine with that. >> i used to jokingly refer to her as the president of the man hater's club. >> reporter: that is until this man, raven abaroa, a good-looking 28-year-old widower chats her up at their children's school. she agrees to have lunch. what was it about him that you liked? >> he seemed very upfront, very honest and genuine.
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i found that, you know, he was a single father. and i really, really admired that. i'd been a single mom for five years. i know what it takes to raise a child. i thought, you know, maybe i'll give him a chance. >> reporter: vanessa and raven were both raised mormon and she felt she could take raven and his son kaiden under her wing. did he mention his ex-wife? what happened to her? >> yes. as we were just starting to date, he just mentioned that, "my wife actually died." i immediately felt so sorry for him. he said that there was an intruder and that she was killed. and that he'd found her. and he had left it at that. >> reporter: but vanessa can't put her curiosity aside about raven's first wife. she goes online to find out more. >> breaking story right now. >> janet abaroa murdered.
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>> no one has been ruled out a suspect. >> that night i stayed up until about 4:00 in the morning reading blogs, watching his interviews, reading all the news stories about it. and going out of my mind. >> reporter: thinking what? >> i wasn't convinced that he was innocent. >> reporter: and watching a local tv interview taped after his wife's death doesn't help. >> janet died that night. >> i remember watching the interview and i wasn't convinced. in the interview, they asked him, you know, what he saw, what he came home to. >> i don't like talking about what happened to her and it's not because i don't love her and it's not because i don't want to find out who did it, it's because i have so many good memories with her that, you know, i hate thinking about the bad times. >> so, i went over and -- i spoke with him, asked him the questions that i had and he removed any and every doubt from
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my mind. he had his stories about how people were trying to frame him. about how horrible the cops were. >> reporter: vanessa becomes convinced that raven isn't responsible for his wife's murder. now, he would try to persuade her to start a life with him. >> he started talking about me moving in after probably just a few weeks. and that was very, very fast for me, and i told him that i wouldn't be moving in with anybody if i wasn't at least engaged to them, knowing that i'm going to spend the rest of my life with them. >> reporter: were you worried that this might be a mistake? >> i didn't have a question in my mind at the time. >> reporter: but vanessa's father, a former police officer does. he has a cop's hunch and a father's instinct. >> the christian side of me want t believehat he is innocent until proven guilty. the police officer side of me says there is something wrong with this picture somewhere. >> reporter: raven is summoned
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to an awkward face-to-face meeting with vanessa's parents. >> they asked him if he had had anything to do with his wife's death. >> and his response was -- well, he kind of sidestepped the question and he didn't say, "yes, i did it" or "no, i didn't do it." >> he said, "i loved my wife. i loved her so much." >> which insinuates that he didn't do it. but he didn't come right out and say that he didn't. >> he was in tears, and vanessa went over and put her arm around him to console him and comfort him. >> she says, "no, i know the guy by now and i am really convinced that he's -- he is not guilty of this." >> at the end of it, they still had their reservations, but soon after that, raven asked my dad for my hand in marriage. >> reporter: vanessa and raven are married in her parents' backyard. it would be a blended family -- his 7-year-old son and her 6-year-old daughter. vanessa's mom gives her a kiss, and gives raven a message.
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>> just take good care of my little girl. he promised me he would. >> reporter: a honeymoon in las vegas follows and raven tells his bride something that still makes her shudder to this day. >> he started talking about janet and how mad he was after she died. not how sad. not how heartbroken. just mad. >> reporter: at whom? >> just that she was dead. and then he cuddled up closer to me, and he said, "i promise i'll never hurt you." i didn't know what to think about that. or, how to feel about that. it scared me. >> reporter: and that's not all that scares her. even before the honeymoon is over, an outburst from nowhere. >> within moments he could
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switch, he could say the most horrible things. i was an [ bleep ] where, a lot. and then moments later he would apologize, "i'm sorry. i was just mad." "that's just what i say when i'm mad. that's just what i do." >> reporter: then, vanessa says, raven's mood swings become physical. >> he grabbed me from the door and threw me up against the wall and then i fell. later, he tried to convince me that i had tripped. he began to call my own family, and my own friends, telling them that i was horribly depressed and bipolar and that i probably needed to be institutionalized. >> reporter: just four months into their marriage, vanessa becomes more and more frightened for her safety and begins to make plans to leave. but it's christmas eve, a time when her family traditionally gets together.
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and as she and raven get ready to go to her parents' house for dinner, another incident of unprovoked violence. >> he had me backed into the corner and he was screaming at me, and poking me in the chest, just yelling at me. i ended up with bruises on my chest from him. he started gathering his things and i wasn't going to stop him. and that fueled his fire. >> reporter: vanessa believes raven is trying to set her up, building another narrative that she is unstable. could he be hatching a plan? >> i think he was in the process of setting it up, with family, and friends, that i'm suicidal. after seeing the jekyll and hyde that i lived with, his eyes would just change. it was very scary. >> reporter: vanessa has no idea
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how much raven abaroa was more sinister hyde than dr. jekyll. these six women are desperate to warn her. >> he's a dangerous person. >> we were fearful for her. as we are fearful for any woman that he becomes involved with. when we come back. ? this is my tv. yeah, i think i saw your patio set and pool. once i have all the money, i'll pick 'em up. you know you could just use kmart layaway for nearly everything in the store or online, any day of the year. and as a shop your way member, you could get 5% off. we'll you're very nice! at kmart, almost everything can be put on layaway 365 days a year. and shop your way members get special savings. kmart. where members always get more. (music) defiance is in our bones. defiance never grows old. citracal maximum.
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"20/20" continues. once again, john quinones. >> reporter: clear across the country, these six women have been tracking raven's every move. they are the sisters of raven's dead wife. and when they hear he has now remarried, they're desperate to warn the new bride. >> we just wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting into and we were fearful for her. >> reporter: they knew only too well the kind of man she married. raven had mesmerized their sister janet. >> she was just infatuated -- everything about him that -- that he would do, she was in love with. >> reporter: janet grew up in a solid mormon family. the seventh of ten siblings. her sisters say she was so easy to get along with. >> a very sweet spirit. loving, kind.
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>> reporter: at southern virginia university, janet already had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop raven. >> she was beautiful, attractive. i just felt so much comfort when i was with her. >> reporter: janet is convinced they can have a storybook life together, and marriage is not far behind. >> it was awesome to be able to kneel across from her and marry her for time and eternity. >> reporter: for these newlyweds, "time and eternity" begins at their new starter home in the small colonial river town of smithfield, virginia. they attended the local church where they meet neighbors, tim dowd and his family, tim becomes a sort of father figure. >> we were just part of a big family. they both came from big families and they didn't have any family in the immediate area, so they kind of adopted us and hung out at our house a lot. >> hello, folks, merry christmas. >> reporter: in their christmas video card, the abaroas seem like the perfect, happy couple.
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>> we wish you the best and the warmest feelings this holiday season. janet, what would you like to say? >> i would like to say merry christmas and a happy new year. >> yeah, he appeared to have his act together. i mean, he was young, newly married, had bought their first home, you know, had a couple nice cars and a motorcycle. like, "wow, this guy's kind of off to a pretty fast start." >> reporter: they soon move to durham, north carolina, and both land jobs at a sporting goods company, but the change of home brings another big change. raven has a dark secret that would be heartbreaking to janet. he tells her that he has been sleeping with other women. >> he came to her one day, because he wanted to be out of the marriage, and explained to her that he had been cheating on her with several different people. and very soon after that she found out she was pregnant. >> she didn't know what to do. >> she didn't want to raise the baby as a single mother.
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>> reporter: just 2 1/2 years into their marriage, her husband leaves her, and janet, scared, reaches out to a family she trusts. >> you could tell she wanted -- she needed somewhere to go. she was crying, very distraught. and she told me she loved raven and that she didn't want to have this child by herself. she loved him. she wanted him back, but not -- >> reporter: tim agrees to talk to raven, man to man, after all, he sees him almost like a son. >> and i kind of read him the riot act in a major way. you know, "what the hell do you think you're doing? you're married. your wife is pregnant. you need to grow up real quick." >> he promised, swore up and down, that he would no longer cheat on her, that she was the only one for him. he would make it work. >> reporter: months later, raven moves back in when janet gives birth to a boy, kaiden. raven appears to be a loving father -- in awe of his son. but he is in love with other people's stuff, too. he is caught stealing high-end athletic equipment from his employer and reselling it to
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help make ends meet. he pleads guilty to embezzlement, avoiding time in the slammer. but janet doesn't give up on raven. their lives seem back on track. and on a spring evening raven says janet is doing the laundry while he is doing chores around the house. >> we looked at kaiden sleeping, made sure everything was good with him and put our arms around each other and said, "i really love you." >> reporter: as raven recalls, he gets ready to go play soccer while janet is getting ready for bed. when he returns to their four-bedroom home, nestled in the woods that night, things seem out of place. he says, he makes a horrifying discovery. >> i'd always go in and give kaiden a kiss and just feel his warm little body. and that's, you know, when i found out that something was wrong. >> durham 911. where is your emergency? >> i'm at home. my wife -- >> i can't understand you. >> my wife, she's dead.
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she's been shot or something. there's blood everywhere. >> she's been shot? >> yes. >> do you see any bullet holes? >> like, right in the chest. >> reporter: cathy cheek and janet abaroa were co-workers and close friends. upon hearing the morning news -- >> police aren't saying how she was killed. >> -- her murder wasn't random. >> reporter: -- she races to janet's home on ferrand drive. >> i got there. i saw the yellow crime lab tape. i was thinking, maybe it's not this house, maybe it's next door. but it was her house. i said, "is it a little tiny blonde-headed girl that's dead?" i didn't want it to be her, but it was. >> reporter: early the next morning, janet's parents are awaken by a phone call. it's raven. >> he was calling to tell them that janet was dead and she had committed suicide.
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>> we automatically knew that was not right. she wouldn't have done that to kaiden. >> no, she never would have killed herself, ever. we knew that wasn't true. >> reporter: in fact, police quickly realizes raven's claim of suicide is flat-out wrong. janet has been murdered, and not with a gun, she's been stabbed to death. >> janet abaroa was found inside her ferrand drive home last night with what appeared to be a stab wound to her chest. >> reporter: janet's family and friends are desperate for answers. desperate to find out who murdered her. >> i kept talking to raven. you've got to help solve this case. >> he hasn't helped the police. he hasn't set out a reward of, you know, help -- help me find my wife's killer. >> reporter: and surprisingly only four days after the murder, raven leaves town, he returns to his boyhood home outside salt lake city. >> my thought is, if somebody were to murder my wife or a child, or any close family member of mine, i'm banging on the police door saying, "what have you done lately?" raven did nothing.
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>> raven provided cooperation at the beginning of the investigation. but there have been subsequent requests for interviews that have gone unanswered. >> reporter: police are curious about raven's knife collection, some of which are missing from the murder scene. and remember that christmas video? well, with janet in the background, raven weirdly brags about a brand-new knife for his collection. >> that's my new knife. i got it for christmas. thank you. i bought it myself. my dad would be very proud. i like to collect knives. >> reporter: but could someone else have used one of raven's knives to stab janet? investigators find a bloody footprint and dna at the crime scene, and they don't match raven. but with few other clues, the case goes cold. janet's family wonder why police aren't taking a harder look at raven and a possible motive. >> he had taken out a life insurance policy soon after she was pregnant with kaiden. >> reporter: how much was the policy? >> $500,000. >> reporter: is he capable of doing that? doing it for the insurance money? >> absolutely.
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>> reporter: even though raven declined a polygraph test and stops cooperating with police, he doesn't have a problem making his case on a local tv show. >> i wasn't involved in the death of my wife. that i would do anything in the world to keep her here with me and that's just -- that's something that the people who who truly know janet and truly know me can understand and appreciate. was raven innocent? could the murderer be a stranger who left a bloody footprint? the answer might lie in janet abaroa's grave. a clue police can only uncover by looking directly into her eyes. janet abaroa doesn't get to rest in peace. when we come back, it's something about her eyes? any guesses about what they were looking for? elizabeth and i will be right back.
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now, more of "sleeping with the enemy." once again, john quinones. >> reporter: before the honeymoon is even over, raven abaroa's second wife, vanessa, suspects he got away with murdering his first wife, janet. he could get away with murder? >> i think he thinks he has. >> reporter: but vanessa says, at least for a while, raven was able to fool her and the police. >> he would make me believe fullheartedly that everyone else was trying to pin everything on him and that he was an innocent man. >> reporter: janet's family says they were never fooled. >> there was no doubt in my mind.
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>> i said, "why did he have to kill her." >> he hasn't, like, set out a reward of, you know, help -- help me find my wife's killer. >> reporter: though family and friends push and plead, years pass without an arrest. >> this is a circumstantial case. it's hard. it's not easy. well, you know what? sometimes justice isn't easy. >> reporter: finally four years later, detective charles sole gets the case. >> the hard part about this case, too, is for me, it's almost like you had to have like a time machine to go back. >> reporter: this is unfinished business for sole. years before, he was one of the first on the scene with a k9 police dog. now, he's the one hounding abaroa, who is 2,000 miles away in utah. >> hey, let me call this guy and see if he wants to talk to this, you know, north carolina detective. and i played the dumb southern cop and he ate it up. >> reporter: and, watch this strange video. abaroa records himself after one
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of those nosy phone calls from the cop. he wonders what the cop is really after. >> i feel myself getting frustrated. i'm not 100% sure why. you know, the more stuff i give them, the more stuff that gets leaked to any type of pending litigation. >> reporter: in that video, abaroa also begins to wonder how he might bankroll a defense. >> i need to win the lottery. you know, and if i were to win $3 million, i would dedicate $2 million to fighting this. two-thirds of my winnings, if you would. >> reporter: sole says abaroa's story just keeps changing. >> the lights were on, the lights were off. the child was crying, the child wasn't crying. you don't get those things wrong if you're telling the truth. >> reporter: abaroa's story is beginning to fall apart. for one thing, if janet was killed by an intruder, sole says, he would expect to see signs of a violent struggle.
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>> nothing was disturbed in that room. as a matter of fact, the blood was contained in a very small space. and you got to remember, just on the other wall, is her child. so, it would have been normal for that room to be destroyed. >> there was no struggle. the killer came upon her and she never resisted. why is that? >> reporter: nancy grace has also been on the case. >> this is what was missing. some of his -- raven's beloved knives collection. his wife was stabbed to death and his laptop. >> reporter: and she points out how lucky abaroa got with his computer, the one supposedly stolen by the killer. >> he backs up all of the files off of his laptop onto disks, just hours before his laptop is "stolen" and his wife is murdered by an "intruder." >> reporter: it was almost as if he knew that computer was about to go missing. and then, there are abaroa's
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beloved throwing knives. detective sole says he was very touchy on that subject. >> when i brought up the whole throwing knife thing, it always was like a dentist poking at a tooth that's bad. he became frustrated with me. like, "why do you care about this?" well, it's kind of important, your wife was stabbed to death. >> reporter: knowing police are desperate to find the murder weapon, abaroa records another odd video, which police will later find, that's his hand, caressing the blade of a knife, he says, was overlooked by crime scene investigators. >> alright, this is a knife that has been in my possession since i got my stuff back from when my brother and dad moved out of my house for me after janet passed away. >> reporter: he claims he happened to find it packed away among his possessions. >> it's a throwing knife. i'm going to be mailing this today, so that he can give it to detectives. >> reporter: is abaroa taunting the detectives? could this be the murder weapon? >> it just kind of was bizarre
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that, you know, he would all of a sudden, mail a knife that would be consistent with the the wound that that she received. >> reporter: abaroa's story is, the murder happened at night after janet went to bed, when he was off playing soccer. but police suspect janet was killed earlier, when raven was still at home. that's why detective sole was struck by something he saw in an old crime scene photo. >> when you look through the crime scene photos, the first thing i'm looking at is, well, her contact lens case is open. >> reporter: if janet was wearing her contacts when she died, that suggests raven may have been lying about her going to bed before he left. janet's family says she always took her contacts out at night. >> i said to myself, "well, if she's ready to go to bed, you know, and she still has her contacts in, you know, that's unusual." >> reporter: if that hunch is right, it could blow a hole in ravens's alibi, police decide to take a drastic step. >> the body of janet abaroa is
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being exhumed tonight. >> reporter: in the age of "csi" and dna, authorities go to work in a peaceful pennsylvania cemetery with the bluntest investigative tool of all -- a backhoe. >> it was a necessary part of the process, but it was, it was horrible to see the family have to go through that. >> reporter: marking the spot at the tombstones in the family plot. grave diggers doing their grim work in reverse. police hoping to unearth secrets buried with the young mother murdered. her body heading back to the autopsy table. a medical examiner has a eureka moment. >> when we exhumed her, yes, they were. they were present. her contacts were present. >> reporter: proof from the grave, the most powerful evidence yet that raven is lying about how and when janet died.
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it is still a circumstantial case. but police believe they have enough. >> circumstantial evidence is deemed powerful than direct evidence. yes, this is a circumstantial case. does that change whether he's guilty? no, it does not. >> reporter: abaroa is arrested, extradited back to north carolina and put on trial for the murder of his wife. next the other women called to the stand, revealing raven's secret life. plus, the jury hears the biggest shock of all -- janet's new pregnancy. when "sleeping with the enemy" returns. you might find a little latte. ♪ and maybe something beastly.
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we return to "20/20" and "sleeping with the enemy." here's john quinones. >> 25-year-old janet abaroa murdered. >> reporter: it was a small town murder that made big news.
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it had taken eight long years from the night raven abaroa's wife was found dead on a hallway floor, to get to trial. job one for prosecutors -- dismantle his reputation as a loving father. the ex-girlfriends made it easy to paint him as a serial philanderer. >> how did you meet the defendant? >> initially, i believe he came up and introduced himself. >> did he flirt with you? >> yes. >> did you flirt back with him? >> yes. >> reporter: jennifer walker says she dated raven while he was taking a time-out from his marriage and living on his own. >> how soon after he moved into that apartment did you and the defendant become physical? >> pretty soon. >> reporter: anabel haviza was a minor, just 17, when raven began pursuing her.
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>> what if your wife finds out? what if she looks at your cell phone records or anything like that? >> reporter: but she says, raven abaroa knew how to cover his tracks. >> and he said, i've got a different sim card that i use and i switch out the sim card so she won't ever know. you know, that i text messaged you or called you. >> reporter: still, he made her uncomfortable -- in his car late one night, anabel said he aggressively pressured her into sex and she feared for her safety. >> we pulled off and eventually we ended up having sex and i just wanted it to be over. and i just kept going like this and saying, okay, if something happens to me i'll leave my hair in there, something, you know, so if they search the car then they'll be able to find my dna or something knowing that i was here. >> reporter: after that night, she says she never saw raven again. >> the whole thing makes me feel small and little. i just wanted to be done with it.
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>> reporter: but anabel wasn't the only one to testify about raven's violent streak. remember his second wife vanessa? do you think he's a murderer? >> yes, i do. >> reporter: she had her marriage to raven animnulleannu. today, vanessa is actually a star witness against him. testifying to his physical and psychological abuse. >> he told me how much he hated me and how much he didn't care if i died and he expressed how much he wanted to hit me. he swung his hand back and he stopped right before he hit my face and he got in my face and laughed at me for flinching. i then had to compose myself and be late to my bridal shower. >> reporter: after the women in his life testified, the jury heard a bombshell -- at the time
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of her death, his wife janet was pregnant with their second child. >> she went to the doctor and she cried and said, it wasn't going to be good, raven wasn't going to be happy that she was pregnant because he didn't want a child at that time. >> statistics show that the number one cause of death of pregnant women is homicide. something about the wife of the partner becoming pregnant escalates the tensions within the home. it can become just too much for certain people -- and by that, i mean, certain men. >> reporter: the defense argued that he might have been a philanderer and a cad, but that doesn't make him a murderer. so, they struck back. starting with the crime scene -- charging that it was contaminated. >> you can see that they're not wearing protective clothing and there's quite a bit of blood. it was a pretty horrific scene. >> reporter: and they raise the intruder theory. a bloody footprint was found near the body, yet it did not belong to either raven, or
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janet. >> we do know that all of raven's shoes were tested that night and there was no blood on the bottom of those shoes. that is a footprint that is not identified. >> reporter: and the defense insists raven could not have killed janet. his alibi -- he was at a soccer game and janet was in bed when he left. but, the prosecution totally demolished that alibi the day they exhumed her body. the reason? when they looked behind her eyelids, there were her contact lenses -- still in place. >> it was a hard contact and it would be absolutely unusual and pretty painful for her to sleep in these contacts. >> reporter: so, janet was not in bed. prosecutors tell the jury, she was actually in the kitchen. the evidence. >> she's obviously making peanut and jelly sandwiches and doing dishes.
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>> reporter: and no unknown robber in sight. >> that unknown would have walked right past her wedding ring that was on the counter. i mean, that just doesn't make sense. >> reporter: so, this was no robbery gone wrong. instead, the prosecutor says the killer was janet's husband and he was waiting on the second floor. >> he called her, come upstairs, janet. he's waiting for her with the knife. bam. she never saw it coming. she clutches her chest, she goes down to her knees at this point. what does he do? he comes up behind her. he's got to finish it, he's already started it, she falls face down. >> reporter: they list the motives for raven wanting to kill his wife -- an unhappy marriage with an unwanted baby on the way and a deep financial hole. did that $500,000 insurance policy he took out on janet offer a way out? in closing, they, again, showed raven's bizarre video, where he seems to be hoping for a payday.
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with a snicker. >> i need to win the lottery, you know, and if i were to win $3 million, i would dedicate $2 million to fighting this, that's what i need, because this fight, you need money, you need power. >> reporter: both sides rest. who would the jury believe? 11 hours later, deadlock. what's holding up the jury? or who? when we come back. [ male announcer ] the wright brothers started in a garage. mattel started in a garage. disney started in a garage. amazon started in a garage. ♪ the ramones started in a garage. my point? some of the most innovative things in the world come out of american garages. introducing the lighter, faster cadillac cts. 2014 motor trend car of the year.
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once again, "20/20's" john quinones and more of "sleeping with the enemy." >> reporter: trial day 34. the state of north carolina versus raven abaroa. after three days of deliberation, his fate to -- is finally being decided.
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janet's sister praying for justice. but the 12 jurors in courtroom 7b, deliver a shocking decision. >> i don't think that additional time is going to change our final outcome. >> reporter: the verdict -- there is none. the jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of guilty. >> we are a hung jury. >> reporter: the judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial. >> we can't make you reach a verdict. >> reporter: the outcome, devastating. raven on the verge of tears. upset at the prospect of another lengthy trial. and behind him, his mother crying. and the other side, overcome with emotion, too. janet's mother and sisters sobbing. this jury member explained to us how a single holdout could not be swayed to find raven abaroa guilty of first degree murder. >> he decided that it was better to let a guilty man go free than it would be to send an innocent man to prison. >> reporter: janet's family, certain of raven's guilt, is crushed. so, when you hear we're going to have to retry the case, what
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goes through your mind? >> you pretty much collapse. >> dread. definitely dread. it's going to be another long six weeks. >> reporter: you didn't want to go through another trial? >> no. >> no. >> we wanted it over. over and done. >> reporter: a new trial was set to begin this week. but, just days before it was to start, a stunning reversal. >> do you plead guilty this morning pursuant to a plea bargain? >> yes. >> a coward's plea. >> coming to an end tonight. >> some closure for her family and friends. >> reporter: it's an about-face as dramatic as his appearance, he was once a soccer stud, but now, not quite the ladies' man. raven abaroa, who always maintained his innocence, took a deal -- not for murder, but a lesser charge. it's called the alford plea. >> a defendant neither admits nor denies, but accepts punishment on the crime. >> reporter: janet's family
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reluctantly accepted the deal because they did not want the risk of a not guilty verdict after another long trial. >> i believe that they did not want under any circumstance for raven to get away or escape justice. is it justice? it's a rough shot at justice. >> reporter: one by one janet's family and friends speak out in court. this is her father. >> janet missed kaiden's first steps, missed out on kaiden's first words, she missed out on being called mommy. >> reporter: hoping to sway the judge, to deliver the maximum sentence. >> any time that you serve will never be enough for the pain that you have inflicted on my family and all that who loved her. >> the defendant will receive an active sentence of 95 months to 123 months. >> reporter: just eight to ten years, the harshest punishment allowed under what janet's family considered a very sweet deal for him. with time already served, raven
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could be out in less than four years. >> raven abaroa is going to be released from jail before his 41st birthday. he's going to walk free. in my mind, that makes every woman out there a target. >> reporter: raven abaroa did not testify at his trial, but now finally breaks his silence to explain why he agreed to the plea deal. >> i would just like to state that i didn't receive a fair trial the first time. i don't think i'll receive a fair trial a second time and the fact is, i love my family very much and i don't think it's worth risking the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for something i didn't do. i take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen. and that's the only reason. i did not kill my wife. >> reporter: a slap on the wrist for him. but a slap in the face for them -- janet's five sisters. >> that was like he was stabbing us, right in the heart.
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>> we have had an open wound. it hasn't been healing. >> reporter: raven's second wife, vanessa, also finds little comfort in the deal. were you surprised that he accepted the plea? >> i was shocked. but i was -- more than that, i was shocked at what the plea deal turned out to be. >> reporter: he could be out in four to six years? >> that's not justice at all. it's not justice. >> reporter: vanessa feels there's no justice, because she can't shake the notion that like a bird at midnight, raven will one day come -- tapping, tapping at another victim's chamber door. your advice to women who come in contact with him? >> please don't be drawn in.
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and please get away as fast -- as fast as you can. don't walk, run, before you're caught in the trap. i was lucky enough to get out. janet was not. i don't want to see that again. so, what do you think of that sentence? outrage or a rough shot at justice? as you heard nancy grace just but sometimes, i still struggled to get going, even get through the day. so i was honest with my doctor. i told him i'd been feeling stuck for a long time. he said that for some people, an antidepressant alone only helps so much and suggested we add abilify (aripiprazole).
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he said that by taking both, some people had symptom improvement as early as 1 to 2 weeks. i wish i'd talked to my doctor sooner. [ female announcer ] abilify is not for everyone. call your doctor if your depression worsens or you have unusual changes in behavior, or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens and young adults. elderly dementia patients taking abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke. call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion to address a possible life-threatening condition. or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements, as these could become permanent. high blood sugar has been reported with abilify and medicines like it and in extreme cases can lead to coma or death. other risks include increased cholesterol, weight gain, decreases in white blood cells, which can be serious, dizziness on standing, seizures, trouble swallowing and impaired judgment or motor skills. [ terri ] since adding abilify, i feel better. abilify and my antidepressant make a pretty good team. [ female announcer ] ask your doctor about a free trial of abilify and go to [ female announcer ] ask your doctor about a free trial of abilify
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waitbut sears alwayser's on thehas parking. ooo kardashian i've gotta try this on we can skip the previews yea there is another show at 5 we can make the 6:30 movies never start on time the only thing more surprising than finding the hottest fashions.... we can skip the popcorn is where you find them. and now, save up to 50% on spring fashion for the whole family it'll be on dvd soon. sears an entirely new menu created with your busy schedule in mind. pronto lunch starting at $6.99. handmade italian sandwiches, flatbreads, and our signature soup and salad. starting at $6.99. and all served "pronto!" at olive garden.
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that's our program for tonight. tune in tomorrow for a special "20/20" saturday with barbara walters. all about the lottery fever that's going around this week, $400 million at stake. ever wonder why so many winners want to stay anonymous? >> this case, this one ends in murder. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas.
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